Thursday, November 1, 2012

African scammers arrested in Russia

I usually don't comment on such things on this blog but the story of African scammers arrested in Russia on suspicion of scamming is hard to ignore. The internet is a momentous innovation and like many useful things, it has downsides: scamming is one of them. Anyone who owns an email address has probably received an email designed to defraud. Nowadays it's easy for fraudsters to pretend to be who they're not and to plan and execute fraudulent schemes soliciting money in the name of individuals or corporations. All this can be done online with the click of a mouse. The story of Africans arrested in Russia on allegations of scamming puts this into perspective.

According to Russian International News Agency (RIA Novosti), nine citizens of Cameroon and Nigeria resident in Russia have been detained in Russia on suspicion of using the names of Russian state-owned companies to swindle at least 900 million rubles ($28.8 million) from hundreds of firms in the European Union, United States and Southeast Asia. Russian law enforcement agencies reportedly believe that the actions of the West Africans involved in the scam damaged Russia's international trade relations.

The actions of the suspects also damage the reputation of Russia and more importantly - the reputation of their countries of origin - Cameroon and Nigeria. Such fraudulent actions could go a long way to hurt the developing economies of the two West African nations by scaring aware foreign entrepreneurs who want to do genuine business.

As an Africans and Cameroonian, this is embarrassing news but it should not be swept under the rug. I have no illusion that every African or Cameroonian or Nigerian agrees with me. There're those who think that such stories about the continent should not be highlighted by fellow Africans. Some argue that we should not air our dirty linen in public.

However, we can't sweep embarrassing stories under the rug and hope that they'll somehow go away. In order to redress a problem, it must be discussed. It's time we start having open, sincere discussions about the rogue actions of a few people and how such actions adversely affect us all. We must [publicly] condemn scamming thereby sending a clear message to scammers or prospective scammers that extortion is unacceptable. ourselves from such actions and seize every opportunity to highlight the fact that groups of people such not be judged by the actions of a few.

The suspects arrested in Russia reportedly face up to 10 years in prison and fines if found guilty.

I welcome the arrests. The culprits should bear the full weight of the law if found guilty. The governments of Cameroon and Nigeria should see this as an opportunity to take a tough stand against scamming.

Their actions are theirs alone and should not be used against innocent people from the region.

*Photo: Moonwell Photography.


  1. First of all, i believe you have to be a greedy person to believe all those rubbish scam emails. Why try to reap where you didn't not sow? There's no such thing as free $$$.
    I agree with you that we have to voice our disagreement with their actions. The last thing we need is for our silence to be misinterpreted. If you don't state your opinion someone will do it for you. Not too long ago I read an article about how many Nigerian fraudsters try to get other African countries citizenship....since then every time i see Nigeria + another country in such a situation...i begin to wonder....are the Cameroonians listed originally from Cameroon?....This of course is not to say that fraud does not exist in Cameroon.

  2. I welcome the fact that you are honest enough to highlight was these Africans are doing. In the UK it is well known that many of these online money scams are operated by a minority of people in Africa. In fact there was a TV documentary showing how they were conning people from small internet cafes.

    I am also not saying that it does not happen within other cultures, races, countries etc, but the main thing is to be open with what is really going on, and to make sure people like that are dealt with by the law.


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